With Melbourne United heading to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder on October 9th (AEST), it’s never too early to start scouting the opposition.
In a weekly series in the lead up to your Melbourne United taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder, we will be helping you prepare for the Thunder and give a taste of what to expect.
In our first instalment, we take a look at the Thunder’s history against international teams.
Since 2010, the Thunder have played five games against international teams, with a record of 4-1 over that span. Their sole loss came against Real Madrid in Spain in the 2016 pre-season.
In what was a high-scoring game that took an overtime period to separate the two teams, Real Madrid eventually overcome OKC, 142-137.
Fans wanting to see how your Melbourne United stack up against the stars of OKC will be glad to know that historically, the Thunder have had their stars suited up in these matchups.
In 2010 the Thunder had one of, if not the best, young core in the league. Possessing Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant (now with Golden State), James Harden (now with Houston Rockets) and Serge Ibaka (now with Toronto Raptors), the Thunder were loaded with a starting five that caused havoc in the league.
Matching up against Moscow CSKA, Durant played 35 minutes, Ibaka suited up for 27 minutes and Harden & Westbrook both hit the hardwood for 25 minutes each.
Moscow CSKA put up a valiant effort, but ultimately the Thunder prevailed 97-89, with Durant putting up 20 points to lead all scorers.
2013 saw the Thunder take on Fenerbache in Turkey. Westbrook missed the entire pre-season with a knee injury, but the Thunder were still loaded up with talent.
Durant and Ibaka both played considerable game time, 28 and 27 minutes respectively, and Durant posted 24 points and added 8 rebounds.
In 2015, Fenerbache travelled to OKC with Durant and Westbrook both playing 22 minutes of game times and Serge Ibaka playing 24 minutes.
In 2016, when the Thunder traveled to Spain to play two games, Westbrook was on the court for both games, averaging 22 minutes of game time.
With Kevin Durant, the other half of the power duo, moving to Golden State, Westbrook used the 2016 pre-season as a launching pad for a truly historic 2016/17 NBA season.
A league record 42 triple-doubles, highlighted by the highest scoring triple-double ever when he recorded 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists against the Orlando Magic, saw him be crowned the 2017 NBA MVP.
With fewer pre-season games this year (down from six in 2016 to four in 2017), these games are more important than ever as the Thunder look to gel new pieces into their line-up before the regular season begins.
The key new piece that has the NBA world talking is four-time All-Star Paul George. Acquired via a trade in July, George will provide plenty of scoring and as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, defence is also a key facet of George’s game.
Oklahoma City Thunder’s history against international teams:
14th of October 2010: OKC 97 – 89 CSKA Moscow
5th of October 2013: OKC 95 – 82 Fenerbache
9th of October 2015: OKC 111 – 81 Fenerbache
3rd of October 2016: OKC 137 – 142 Real Madrid (OT)
5th of October 2016: OKC 92 – 89 FC Barcelona Lassa